||Israeli-American Hanukkah Stamp
ISRAEL POSTAL AUTHORITY
October 22, 1996
The "Hanukkah Stamp", the first stamp to be jointly issued by Israel and the United States, was launched on Tuesday, October 22, 1996.
Communications Minister Limor Livnat said: "For the first time, a stamp has been jointly issed with the State of Israel's greatest friend - the United States. This is an additional expression of our special relationship, the American people's esteem and appreciation for the Jewish religion and culture, and the two countries' shared commitment to each other. There is no holiday more deserving than Hanukkah to be commemorated in a stamp by two great democracies. It symbolizes the freedom of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, which is the same freedom which provides the basis for American democracy."
The stamp has a drawing of a colorful menorah (special Hanukkah candelabra) with the Hebrew phrase - "A great miracle happened here" - on the tab. The Souvenir Leaf shows two stamps, one American and the other Israeli. The stamp is unique in that it is the first Israeli self-adhesive stamp.
First day cover
The Designer - Hannah Smotrich
Hannah Smotrich is an American graphic designer with her own studio in Washington, DC. A graduate of Harvard University and the masters program in Design at Yale School of Art, she is also an adjunct faculty member at the Corcoran School of Art. She has also lived and worked in Israel.
The Hanukkah Holiday
The Hanukkah holiday and the lighting of the candles serve as a reminder to us, symbolizing the dedication of the Holy Temple following the victory of the Jews over the Greek Syrian forces, led by Antiochus Epiphanes, in the year 164 BCE. The Jewish rebellion against Greek rule broke out after Antiochus enforced edicts nullifying the religious beliefs of the peoples under his rule. Jews were forbidden to keep the Sabbath and conduct circumcisions, the Holy Temple was desecrated by idol worship, and the Jewish rituals previously conducted there were halted.
The rebellion was lead by Matityahu the Hasmonean, a priest from Modi'in, and his five sons. After a number of battles led by Judah the Maccabee, the City of Jerusalem was liberated from the Greeks. The Hasmoneans purified the Temple so that the worship of God could resume. They purified the seven-branched oil lamp in which the priests burned oil candles, and found one cruse of oil which had not been rendered impure by the Greeks. Tradition tells that the oil in this single small cruse lasted foreight days. This is the Miracle of Hanukkah.
The Hanukkah holiday falls on the 25th day of Kislev. Since ancient times, it is customary to light candles in an eight-branched menorah (or Hanukkia). One candle is added for each day of the feast, until eight candles are lit on the last day of the holiday. The menorah is placed in a prominent spot or near a window so as to publicize the miracle. The eight candles are lit with a special candle, called the shamash. The candles in the menorah are not to serve any purpose other than being seen. Special holiday songs accompany the candle lighting, the best known of them being "Maoz Tzur".
Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Maccabee Holiday. Children particularly enjoy Hanukkah because of the holiday custom of eating doughnuts and potato latkes, fried in oil, to commemorate the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days. The children also play games with a special Hanukkah spinning top and receive Hanukkah gifts.
The lighting of the Hanukkah candles has become a symbol of the victory of light over darkness, of bravery and the struggle for freedom of faith and national liberty of a people in their homeland, the few battling against the myriad.
The seven branched lamp has become part of the national symbol of the State of Israel.
Please address all questions directly to:
The Israeli Philatelic Service
12 Sderot Yerushalayim